Subject: TL Nat'l Alliance for Int'l Tribunal Letter to Sec'y General
[English translation just made available]
Timor Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal
Secretariat: HAK Office, Rua Governador Serpa Rosa T-091, Farol, Dili, Timor Leste
Contact person: Rosentino Amado Hei (+ 670 7237172/ Indonesian version) & Joao Sarmento (+670 723 50 43/ English version)
17 September 2004
His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan Secretary General of United Nations
Dear Mr. Annan, We, the undersigned below, are members of the Board of Timor Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal, which since 2001 has actively campaigned for the establishment of an international tribunal for crimes against humanity in Timor Leste, in the year 1999. On this occasion, we once again express our feelings and thoughts on the justice process in Timor Leste. We hope that this expression will find a place in the United Nations during its discussion of processes related to the resolution of the 1999 crimes against humanity in Timor Leste.
The performances of the Indonesian Ad Hoc Tribunal in Jakarta and the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Dili have indicated to the public that both means of legal instruments are no longer effective in bringing justice to the victims of the 1999 crimes against humanity. The Jakarta trial has clearly showed us all that it was no more than an act of “washing ones hands” of responsibility for the prime perpetrators an act we predicted from the very beginning. Meanwhile, the Dili panel has also lately demonstrated its confusion concerning its work while receiving no attention whatsoever from the responsible parties. It is ironic that the suffering and pride of the victims are being manipulated by the institutions responsible for upholding justice and human rights.
It is often argued that establishing an international tribunal requires a large sum of money. But huge amount of money, energy and thought have also been wasted for the “dramas” in the trials in Dili and Jakarta, acted out by politicians. The rhetoric of human rights, peace and justice were used as commodities to achieve credibility for those wanting to come out as “stars” in their countries or on the international level. Vested interests have entered the workings and the tradition of the international laws, simply ignoring the interests of the greater population.
The argument that there is little money to fund such an international tribunal is baseless. If the superpowers can afford to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq, why are they reluctant to reach into their wallets to fund an international tribunal? Aren’t these wars crimes against humanity which clearly contravene the United Nations conventions? Were those wars more noble than organising a tribunal which follows all the international principles and values? What has happened to the values of the international community? Does the international political stage now accommodate anti-humanitarian politicians?
We worry that these developments show that the United Nations is struggling to define itself. The core of the United Nations conventions are being challenged and ignored making the flouting of the international norms and laws the norm. Certain groups, representing the interests of very small minorities, have promoted their own agendas, and not that of greater humanity, through the use of United Nations-type talk and symbols. If such trends continue, they could become a new tradition for the United Nations, which would erode the norms of humane behaviour. The United Nations would simply become a tool for legitimating inhumane acts and preserving the chain of impunity.
In the 1999 crimes against humanity in Timor Leste, the victims were not merely Timorese. In fact, there were also other nationalities, including staff members of the United Nations mission at that time (UNAMET). The United Nations not only was a witness, but it was also a victim in this case. However, as many are witnessing, this world’s top body is conducting the justice process “half-heartedly.” The two main governments, Indonesia and Timor Leste, seem unconcerned, showing little seriousness in ensuring an international process of justice. The rejection of the United Nations of the conviction of General Wiranto, as stated by UN spokesperson Fred Eckhart, indicates evidence of the United Nations’ undetermined effort. On the other hand, there is also no serious effort made by the United Nations to convince the two countries (Indonesia and Timor Leste) that the obligation for county-to-country cooperation requires also trials for past crimes against humanity, concurrent with international law.
This state of abandonment has fostered the perception between politicians in the two countries, as well as some groups in the international community, that bringing forward the perpetrators of the 1999 crimes against humanity would spark a new conflict, rather than put a stop to the crimes which are currently being repeated in other parts of Indonesia, such as in Aceh.
Poverty in Timor Leste has also been used by certain parties in Indonesia to terrorize groups campaigning for justice. There seems to be no respect for the dignity and integrity of Timor Leste as an independent state, although it must be noted that impoverishment was driven by the 24-year Indonesian military occupation of Timor Leste which has destroyed the cultural dignity and nature of the country. Arrogantly, several Indonesian politicians used Timor Leste’s “dependency” on Indonesian commodities to pressure the Timorese government against supporting an international tribunal for the sake of good relations. It is not clear on which values these good relations are based, but it seems as though it is mere propaganda, suggesting that an international tribunal is motivated by vengeance. These attempts are clearly an effort to distort the essence and meaning of the tribunal which aims to prevent impunity and promote human rights -- concept generally embraced by modern societies.
Once again, the United Nations must face this challenge. This problem concerns not only Timor Leste and Indonesia, rather it is also the responsibility of the international community. If the United Nations and the international community in general fail to resolve this dispute over a tribunal, then it would be a huge loss for what has been invested in the international “pilot project” mission in Timor Leste. Furthermore, it would have also proved that the United Nations is not viable in keeping world peace, indicated by the failure to promote sustained justice and peace for such a small country as Timor Leste.
An ugly precedent could emerge from the failures of Timor Leste and Indonesia, whereby law and the principles of democracy would only be considered “lip service” used by the ruling regimes. The refusal of justice for the perpetrators of the 1999 crimes against humanity, spearheaded by the leadership of the Timor Leste government, not only opposes the spirit and principles of various international agreements, but it also violates the RDTL Constitution (article 160).
We truly hope that within the United Nations, as well as within the international community, there are still those who are committed to upholding the values of humanity. Cooperation between various elements must be established in order to preserve the mission of the United Nations. To try the perpetrators of the 1999 crimes against humanity would not only advantage Timor Leste, it would also aid the promotion of democracy in Indonesia and help eliminate future human tragedies from the face of Planet Earth.
By means of this statement, we respectfully ask for your attention. And for that attention, we express our thanks.
Board of Timor Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal
Representative of Victim Families, Maria Afonso
Representative of Students, Sisto dos Santos,
Representative of the NGOs, Rosentino Amado Hei
Forward: Presented to the Honorable: 1. President of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, Mr. Xanana Gusmão 2. President of the National Parliament, Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, Mr. Francisco Guterres Lu Olo
3. Prime Minuster of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste, Mr. Marí Alkatiri
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